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Housing NZ Responds To Herald on Sunday

9 April 2006

Housing New Zealand Corporation

Response to matters raised in the Herald on Sunday.

Statement by Pat Snedden, Chair of Housing New Zealand Corporation

The clause in a settlement agreement restricting a former contractor to Housing New Zealand Corporation from taking his concerns about the Corporation to the Minister or a Member of Parliament was not appropriate, the chairman of Housing New Zealand Corporation, Pat Snedden said today.

"It is neither the ethical or policy position of the Corporation to contractually prevent public servants from access to the Minister and I do not support such restrictions, nor do I support financial penalties for taking such action.

"In respect to the balance of the letter, the confidentiality is standard practice to protect employees from being named in respect to unproven allegations that are subject to a review which is yet to be concluded."

Mr Snedden said Housing New Zealand Corporation's intention was and is to conduct a proper investigation to the satisfaction of its external auditors of all the matters raised by the former contractor.

"The allegations in question have been the subject of internal investigation in as far as the detail supplied has been examined.

"To date nothing has been found that gives me cause for concern."

Action to date

Mr Snedden said with the allegations now in the public arena, he had asked Housing New Zealand Corporation's external auditors Ernst & Young to review all matters related to the statement of facts provided by the contractor and to report their findings to the Board as soon as practicable.

"I will be briefing Ernst & Young on Monday in respect to the terms of reference," he said.

"In the meantime, the Chief Executive of Housing New Zealand Corporation Helen Fulcher has stood down the General Manager Assurance Services Gerard Coles to ensure full transparency is observed during the period of the Ernst & Young review. Mr Coles will be available to Ernst & Young for assistance if required.

"Once the Board has had the opportunity to review the report from Ernst & Young, it is my intention to release it for public distribution," said Mr Snedden.


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